Help with XLR ICs.

Ok gang. So here’s my situation. I’m looking to upgrade my XLR ICs. I’ve been using Straightwire Crescendo XLR ICs for many years now. I originally bought them for my first system I put together about 10 years ago. Since then I have totally upgraded my whole system including PCs which are 4 Audioquest Dragons (2) HC and (2) source. I really did want to go with Audioquest Dragons for my XLR ICs. But the prices for them brand new is to high for me. 2 m xlr are 18k and 1 m are 12k. I was looking for used for a few months now but never ever seen any that were ever for sale used. I also am using Straightwire Crescendo speaker cables which are quad wired. That’s 2 pairs for ea speaker going into ea mono amp. So u can imagine what the AQ Dragon quad wired speaker cables would cost.100k ++ That being said I will be keeping for now my Straightwire Crescendo speaker cables. So back to my original question post. What high end XLR ics would be a lot better than my Straightwire Crescendo XLRs. Budget is about 4k a pair. And will need 2 pairs. 2 m and 1 m. . I really did like the Straightwire Crescendos ICs and speaker cables for their powerful bass as they are also known for. So that being said I would like high end ICs that are known also for extremely good bass. My system consists of ARC Ref 750s mono blocks. ARC Ref 6Se pre. ARC ref 9 CDP. And a McIntosh MQ 112 EQ.  

128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xtattooedtrackman

@tattooedtrackman I use Nordost Tyr 2 XLRs throughout. Upgraded from Acoustic Zen Absolute Copper. The Tyr 2 are amazing cables and a great value on a used market. If you can swing the next level up, the Valhalla 2, I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed either. Worth trying out.

As far as full cable looms are concerned…my $0.05 here on the subject…I’m on a fence about it. Adding more of the same doesn’t always result in the best possible outcome. I wouldn’t ho out of my way trying to accomplish this.

If you like how a ‘loom sounds’ go for it. 

I use Shunyata for power and Kimber Kable for others. I did it over time and don’t see a value to migrate to one manufacturer. 

I am a big fan of Transparent speaker cables and interconnects with Audio Research. It is a classic synergistic match. The best you can afford. Try before you buy.

I’d recommend XLR IC’s based on Mundorf’s Silver/gold solid core wires (i.e.: 99% silver + 1% gold). I use their wires as both speakers cables (1mm variant for the lower midrange on up) and XLR IC’s (0.5mm).

Sonically I would describe them as the perhaps most balanced sounding cables I’ve heard. Extremely resolved, coherent/great solidity, tonally with a natural warmth, and with an imprinting that "morphs" depending on the source material. They’re always very listenable and yet revealing. One may even call them "musical monitor" cables.


Straight Wire and Transparent are both sonic matches for ARC.

Keep me posted.


Happy Listening!

@jafant So what u are saying is what I am using now Straight wire Crescendo is a good match with my ARC ? 


Yes indeed. Transparent is better at a significant cost.


Happy Listening!

I've never heard the Audioquest Dragon cables, but I've heard from some that I trust that they are amazing cables.  I'd like to try them, but for now I'll have to stick with my Purist Dominus.

@nrchy Yes they are amazing cables. But retail is about 18k which is something that u can’t do right now for 2 cables. And I’ve never seen them used for sale yet. 

@audphile1  I’m really interested in the Nordost Valhalla 2 XLR. I’m gonna continue to research and read the reviews. Ty. 

Very good quality and value Wireworld 

ECLIPSE CABLES  silver over copper connectors 

Many use cheap brass -7-9s pure copper 

Litz construction ,patented doelectric 

And decent fair pricing i got a great deal at      perrotta 


You can find top quality pure silver interconnect cables, RCA and XLR at For way less than $4000

Many reviews and user comments.

See what you think.

I appreciate the cables I tried are not at the same price point as the cables you are considering but the conclusion may be something to consider.

I tried some AQ Earth XLR's they were used and a good price so why not, anyway they sounded ok. My son came round to listen to some music with me and after 5 mins he said it sounds a bit flat, not knowing I had the AQ ICs in. I changed them back to my Chord Chorus 2, and straight away we both thought that was more dynamic etc.

Moving on I had bought a pair of used VDH D102 mkIII'S  and out of curiosity I tried them and wow they sounded fantastic, dynamics, scale, detail and tone were all better. I started to research VDH cables and bought a used pair of VDH The Rock, they had the same signature as the D102's but everything was up a notch or 2.

So to the point try some upper end VDH'S and you might be able to save yourself a buck or two.


Make your own cables for wire is wire, just make sure you get some pure copper xlr cable and neutrik xlr connectors or switchcraft both make the best xlr connectors and wire is wire I am an electrician so I know what I am talking about, Mogami gold is one of the best premade wire you can buy but if you make your own it only takes a fraction of the price, do not buy into gimmicks thinking that companies have access to a private material that no one else can get their hands on for that simply isn’t the truth.

I recently upgraded to Morrow and noticed a big difference in the overall sound. From center stage to mid bass and highs. They have a very nice range of price and will offer a fair assement based on your equipment. 

OT but I had Straight Wire Crescendo Speaker cables for 13 years and thought they were great. I upgraded to Townshend F-1 Fractal speaker cables and the difference was astounding. Better in every way. 

I also had Crescendo XLR IC's but changed to Townshend Fractal RCA's. Getting the RCA's at Max Townshend's recommendation. He thought RCA's provided more "pure" music due to less circuitry of the RCA's. Unless you had very long cable runs, he believed that RCA was better. 

You've got to be kidding me.  You've got to try (insert the brand I own here).  Or even better, you must hear (brand I've only ready about here).  First world .00001% problems.

I use Morrow cables throughout my system and highly recommend them. If you decide to upgrade, they will take your old ones in trade. 

+1 ghdprentice

I have Audio Research 160S amp and Ref6se and use Transparent XLR interconnects and Transparent Reference Speaker cables and Power Cords. Major improvement over my Audioquest that I was using. Speakers are Wilson Alexia V.

have you looked at cables on usaudiomart? They have Transparent  XLR there  

Let us know what you decide.

@OP, Search recent threads on AES 48 standard. If your equipment supports the standard, differences between XLR cables may not make any difference at all. Mogami Gold quad core 2534 microphone cable maybe all you need. Atmosphere has addressed this in the past. 

@bigwave1 I agree. Mogami mic cables will work just fine. Similar to how Civic size wheels and tires will work on a Porsche if you can find rims that fit the logs.
The car will drive and will take you to the local bagel store.
But we’re talking about performance here. Not purpose. 

@OP. It's worth trying AQ FireBird. Over your budget perhaps, but significantly less than Dragon.

@yoyoyaya I just was talking to my ARC dealer and he suggested that if I can’t afford or find the Audioquest Dragons XLR cables used that the AQ Thunderbirds are phenomenal cables for the price. I also will be looking at trying to find the AQ Firebird XLR used. This is the top of the line AQ cables. Dragon > Firebird > Thunderbird. So with that being said that’s my goal.  

I’ve had the top 4 AQ IC in my system ( 2 M XLR ) between REF Phono 2se > REF 5se for 2 weeks ( this is where it helps to have a relationship w a dealer w muscle = Audio Ultra in Seattle ). You can see pics of the rest of the system ….. AQ wild Blue out to the monoblocks on the virtual system pages. IMO Pegasus and next higher are value game changers…. great copper bass that gives up a whisker of definition each time you climb higher in Silver….. 

Best to you in your musical quest !
Ref 750 w 6 is quite something :-)…

@tattooedtrackman a friendly warning…careful buying used AQ cables. Lots of fakes in circulation. Applies to Nordost as well. 
Here’s an example…AQ Thinderbird

AQ will validate but will also destroy fakes - reputable sellers shouldn’t mind routing the cable to Irvine, CA for that verification or providing equivalent documentation….


@bigwave1 I agree. Mogami mic cables will work just fine. Similar to how Civic size wheels and tires will work on a Porsche if you can find rims that fit the logs.

Yea, but:


There's a reason why Mogami is called "The Cable of the Pros." Virtually every major recording facility is wired with Mogami, which means that just about any music you listen to has passed through Mogami somewhere in the recording chain—from Fleetwood Mac to Foo Fighters, from Prince to Pearl Jam, and countless others.


Maybe you can get away with Tellurium silver diamond or their statement interconnect for lass money.This are good cables. Zensati cables as well they have good reviews. I have not heard them .

Utter waste of money. If you need to spend that on well marketed and really poorly engineered cables I’d suggest Monster cable with Neutrik XLR connectors. You’ll save a crap ton of cash and I absolutely guarantee that you won’t notice any audio difference at all. Both are incredibly overkill.


(why do marketers prey on innocent people that have too much money and don't understand how audio works?)


@OP Yes, Thunderbird is also excellent.

As to the above post, reputable cable companies like Audoquest have spent decades developing an understanding at a conceptual, objective and subjective level as to why and how cables influence sound quality.

@audphile1  Ty  I’ve seen them also. One huge giveaway is the price.Even private sellers u have to watch. 

@yoyoyaya  + 💯.   Hearing is definitely believing. When I changed all my Shunyata high end PCs to all AQ Dragons I was amazed what a huge difference I heard. 

@quantos  I am not hear to get into a discussion that probably will turn into an argument over what I can hear with cables. Also I do not have “too much money “ I work hard and save for all my audio equipment. 

The rule of thumb with Mogami is that they are competitive with audio replay cables at the same price level. They do not provide better sound for the money. So, they are not a secret “better sounding” cable for high end audio.

Inakustik in Germany has fabulous cables. Their TOTL XLR 1m cable goes for around 2K. They have a try before you buy program, but I'm not sure if they'll extend that to the States. Wouldn't hurt to check...

The rule of thumb with Mogami is that they are competitive with audio replay cables at the same price level.

Agree. The mogami and canare target market are artists making and recording music as a profession.

@tattooedtrackman - that's interesting to hear of your experience of Shunyata versus Dragon in power cords. That's a comparison I haven't done personally.

Analysis Plus Solo Crystal XLR. They are make cables for the recording industry and have various levels of interconnects, speaker and power cables. I have a loom of Analysis Plus Solo Crystal interconnects in one system and all DH Labs interconnects in my other system (Air Matrix Cryo and phono cables) I use Purist Audio Design Poseidon Speaker cables and love them. My 2 cents and that is what it is worth. 

@audphile1 I’m interested in the Tyr2 XLR. How  would you describe the bass, is it on the lean side of neutral?

I tried the Shunyata Alpha v2 XLR against my Synergistic Accelerators but found them too bright and they also lacked bass impact.

@yoyoyaya  I  originally was using the Shunyata Sigma HC for my ARC Ref 6Se. Shunyata Sigma Ztron digital for my ARC Ref 9 CDP and 2 Shunyata King Cobra Helix CX for my ARC Ref 750s. Changed them one at a time to the AQ Dragons  to hear the difference. And each time I heard bigger sound stage. More depth. Details were so much more revealing. Better clarity. Also the Shunyatas were extremely bright compared to the AQ Dragons. Definitely worth the upgrade for me and my system. 

@swede58 Tyr 2 are best balanced top to bottom XLRs I have ever had in my system. There’s great detail and resolution, clarity in the mids and speed together with drive and texture in the bass. Presentation is laid back but at the same time very engaging. There’s no brightness or sibillance in my system with these cables. Highly recommend. But…cables at this level require equipment that’s top notch. If you have garbage in, you will get garbage out. 

Changed them one at a time to the AQ Dragons  to hear the difference. 

That’s exactly the path I took — one Acoustic Zen cable at a time and ended up with a full loom as the benefits were additive every step of the way.  The key is finding that first cable that just sounds “right,” then you’re off and running.

Thanks Tattooedtrackman. It's very useful to have your listening impressions versus your previous cables. It's always useful when people provide a comparative perspective.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve owned several different high end XLR interconnects, from several different manufacturers. About three years ago, I switched from another brand to a pair of Audioquest Earth interconnects, and they were just wonderful from top to bottom. About a year later, I got the itch to upgrade to the AQ Pegasus. Now, the Pegasus were so absolutely impressive and amazing in my system, they could’ve very well been my end-game interconnects for the long haul. That’s how brilliant the Pegasus sounded and synergized in my audio system. The AQ Pegasus had that "it factor" in my audio system. However, as great as the Pegasus sounded in my system, and, I mean great, the next level up in the line, the Thunderbird, was hauntingly calling my name. So, I just recently ordered the Thunderbird XLRs, which were at the absolute outer edge of my humble budget. I’m currently anxiously awaiting the Thunderbirds arrival. I strongly believe that the Thunderbirds will finally take me off the interconnect merry-go-round, and will ultimately become my "end-game" interconnects. However, and I mean this very sincerely, I could’ve been very much happy and satisfied with the absolutely incredible sounding Pegasus interconnects, which totally blew me away, and were even somewhat difficult for me to part ways with.  So, I can only imagine how great the upgrade to the AQ Thunderbird interconnects will sound in my system. Yes, I have fallen deeply and madly in love with AQ upper tier interconnects. Happy listening.


Jeff Smith of Silversmith Audio (and Fidelium Speaker Cable fame) recently came out with some XLR ICs--i bought a pair of them 12' in length for around $1700--they are top notch--i still don't see them on his site but contact him. I was buying speaker cables from him when he mentioned them. His cables are supreme value for quality.

@kennymacc  I totally believe what said about AQ ICs.  I have been looking for 2 pairs of Thunderbird ICs.  1m and 2m. I wish I could have afforded the Dragons but right now they are totally outta my price range. I’ve read a lot of fantastic reviews of the Thunderbird ICs and also really feel that they would totally be the end game for me as well. Right now I’m lookin for them used for about 3 weeks so far and nada. Did u buy yours brand new from AQ ? And do u still have the Pegasus? Would u be selling them when u get the Tbirds ? Also I would love to hear your impressions of them vs the Pegasus. Net ya can’t wait for the Tbirds to arrive!! Happy listening!!!!